As the year 2014 draws to a close, we are about to be suffocated under a deluge of ‘Best-of 2014’ lists, nostalgic recaps of the great hits and misses of the year and boring awards that don’t mean a thing. We get it; the year is done! Let’s move one, shall we? And we’re going to start right here with a list of exciting smartphones that will have you salivating through the festive season right into 2015. So if you plan on partying till you die this New Year’s Eve, we have one suggestion — don’t! You’re going to want to NOT be a corpse when these smartphones hit the shelves.
1. The Titans – Samsung and Apple
The rivalry between Samsung and Apple is a bit like the Godzilla taking on a T-Rex – both are unwilling to back down and each year they come up with vicious attacks (and fantastic products), hoping it will give them the upper hand. This past year saw both smartphone giants release their flagship devices (Samsung’s Galaxy S5 and Note 4 and Apple’s iPhone 6 and 6 Plus) and there’s no reason to expect them to stop battling it out for smartphone supremacy in 2015.
So, starting with Samsung, what’s the buzz like for major releases in 2015? Well it’s hardly surprising that Samsung are hard at work on the Galaxy S6 (codenamed Project Zero) which could be announced to the public in early 2015 and maybe even rolled out by the end of the first quarter of 2015 (March 2015 is rumored to be the target date set by the company but it is heavily dependent on testing, certifications and production, all of which may push the date back). Specs that we might see in the S6 include a better screen with Quad HD resolution (which is a 2K display), a 16MP or 20MP rear facing camera, a 5MP front camera, Exynos 7420 and Snapdragon 810 processors which are both rumored to be 64-bit processors.
Rumors for the Note 5 are much scarce but most point to a release date in August, much earlier than the release of the Note 4 last year and the possibility that it could employ an Ultra HD display (4K) to replace the Quad HD display found on the Galaxy Note 4.
Turning our gaze on T-Rex (or Apple), there is considerable debate already about the naming of the next iPhone – would it be the iPhone 7, or going by the trends of the last few years, the iPhone 6S. There is little doubt that whatever it’s called it will be revealed in September keeping in line with Apple traditions. Features to expect in the new iPhone are wireless charging (which was expected to arrive in the iPhone 6), iOS9, a two-lens DSLR quality camera, possibly a 3D display although a similar design and screen size is predicted.
2. The Dark horses – LG, HTC, Motorola and Sony
While the big baddies are taking swipes at each other, a number of smaller players are slowly but surely gaining traction in the smartphone market. LG, HTC, Motorola and Sony might not have the universal appeal of Samsung or Apple, but these manufacturers are fighting the hype of those two by producing genuinely fantastic phones with brilliant features that have garnered praise from all corners.
With the exception of Sony Xperia Z3, the LG G3, HTC One M8 and Moto X are all priced lower than the Apple and Samsung flagship phones and are competitive on all fronts whether it’s design, specs or features. So all eyes will be on these dark horses as they prepare to launch another assault on the big guys in 2015.
The second generation Moto X showed that the brand is willing to learn from its past errors which makes us optimistic about the 2015 edition. Sony is rumored to be going all out with the Xperia Z4, with a larger than before, 5.5-inch display and a Quad HD resolution and possibly the 64-bit Snapdragon 810 to soup it up even more. The LG G4 might be the first phone that comes embedded with an in-house LG system chip and while the screen of the G3 was its only weakness, LG’s aggressive pricing will ensure that people take notice. And finally. the HTC would like to carry on it’s refined design from the M8 to the M9 in 2015 and contemplate overhauling the camera. With its smooth Sense software, the HTC One M9 could be the smartphone to look out for in the new year. Expect all these phones to hit the market between Feb and September 2015.
3. The Rebels – Xiaomi, OnePlus, Karbon and Micromax
Chinese manufacturers like Xiaomi (pronounced as ‘show-me’), OnePlus and Indian smartphone giant Micromax don’t play by the rules. They continue to confound the world with stunning specs at half the price of other flagships.
2015 will see the release of the Xiaomi Mi5 just months after the Mi4, possibly at next month’s CES Event in Las Vegas and around April the OnePlus Two could make an appearance. Indian manufacturers like Micromax and Karbon will release new devices featuring the Android One in the first quarter of 2015. Micromax may also bring out a 4G LTE supported device in the new year with the latest Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 210 chipset – exciting times for us all.
4. Exiled Kings – Microsoft and Nokia
The marriage of Nokia and Microsoft is an appropriate one. Both were once the unchallenged rulers of their respective fields; now they are in despair. But together they might get their throne back. There has been no follow-up to the Nokia Lumia 1020 for the longest time but 2015 is the year when the 1020’s successor will grace the market which will now be branded as Microsoft Lumia. Boasting of an impeccable camera with PureView technology and a massive Windows 8.1 update, 2015 might actually see the return of the king.
5. The Ground Breaker – Google
Google is expected to release the world’s first modular smartphone in 2015. Confused or awe-struck? Don’t worry, the picture will help.
Google is hoping to revolutionize the smartphone universe by introducing a low cost, highly modular phone that will allow users to customize not only the aesthetic elements of the phone, but also the functional elements. Project Ara, as it is referred to by Google is aimed at creating a third-party ecosystem of module developers, in order to change the way innovation happens in the hardware space such that it resembles the App Store (software) model.